Cynical party political posturing is failing our people, Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said, saying the emphasis must be on pragmatic solutions to concerns of the Protocol, rather than escalating political instability.
Mrs Long was speaking following DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson indicating his party could quit the Assembly if its demands over the Protocol were not met, and announced they would withdraw from North-South institutions and cooperation with immediate effect. The Alliance Leader said it was a “cynical move driven more by electoral concerns than concern for the electorate".
“The people of Northern Ireland have had to endure a horrendously stressful and difficult 18 months due to the pandemic. They are struggling with accessing cancer treatment, worried about their children's education and health at school, fearful for their jobs as furlough ends and are exhausted,” she said.
“What they want and have the right to expect from political leaders is we focus on those priorities and on delivering improvements for them and their families - to create stability and give them hope. Instead, the DUP are engaging in cynical party politics to try and recover perceived forthcoming electoral losses.
“Those who have problems with the Protocol have yet again failed to put forward any meaningful solutions - which is what politics ought to be about. Instead, they are seeking to escalate the practical challenges into a constitutional crisis, making it harder to resolve and then demanding everyone else provides the solution. That is not leadership from Sir Jeffrey Donaldson. It’s his job to engage constructively with other parties to find resolutions.
“We need people to step away from the precipice and end this constant cycle of crisis. I truly despair at times at the state of politics. People actually want to see us deliver, especially given we are only back from the last crisis barely 18 months.
"My colleagues and I want to get on with our jobs, to deliver progress and tangible benefits for the whole community. I believe that is what the vast majority of the public want and deserve, and those threatening to wreck the institutions are behaving in a thoroughly self-interested and cynical manner, which may well be punished by a weary and frustrated population."